French change tack as typhoon turns up the heat
French players have struggled to cope with the weather conditions here ahead of their meeting with the United States today.
The weather has become more extreme due to Typhoon Mitang, which is due to pass over this city, and former Northampton Saints No 8 Louis Picamoles, captaining Les Bleus for the first time, said it has been a consideration in how his side trained for the game.
There was no rain as the French prepared, but they trudged through stifling humidity of 83 per cent in temperatures close to 30C. “We are a bit surprised, we had heard about the weather conditions here but it’s something we have not experienced before,” said Picamoles.
“This weather is extraordinary. We can be prepared for rain, but such high levels of humidity and high temperatures are not something I have experienced, so we have had to adapt.”
It was clear during the captain’s run held at the match venue – the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium – that training had been modified. The squad began with a gentle warm-up, which was as strenuous as players simply walking and then slowly jogging around the pitch in small groups, passing balls. During the main session, players such as Antoine Dupont and wing Damian Penaud, who have been left out of the team by Jacques Brunel for this fixture, played the part of the Americans and were running, while starters including Toulouse wing Yoann Huget looked to be conserving energy by walking or jogging.
Gael Fickou, who looked rejuvenated at centre in France’s 23-21 victory
A leading role: Louis Picamoles will captain France for the first time in today’s match over Argentina, will earn his 50th cap in the Pool B fixture, which no doubt England will watch with interest having seen so little of the French thus far. The 25-year-old was also moving extremely slowly.
However, players seemed to be taking the challenge in good spirits. Penaud donned gardening gloves at one point to show just how difficult it was to get a grip on the ball.
There had been fears that the match could be called off due to the typhoon but World Rugby, in consultation with the Japan Meteorological Agency, made the call for it to go ahead as the worst weather was predicted to hit farther west, out to sea. According to the JMA, this 18th typhoon of the year was yesterday over the East China Sea heading north to the Korean Peninsula and Sea of Japan.
The JMA predicts the northern area of Kyushu, including Fukuoka, can expect 120mm of rain in the 24 hours up to kick-off.
Replacements United States Referee Kick-off